Day in the Life of an Aspiring Author

Querying and submitting to agents is a long, arduous, and nerve-wracking process.  I finished my first manuscript (contemporary romantic suspense) a few months ago after years of writing, and another year of revising, editing, cutting, splicing, and crying.  (Emotions run rampant around these pieces of my soul on paper).

Then I started the massive undertaking of finding a literary agent.  I’ve read so many self-help books and tips on publishing that I believe I have the basics down.  Now its down to the nitty-gritty in getting my query letter noticed among the thousand of queries agents read every day.

Most agents aren’t looking for new authors to sign right now.  “Our agency is currently occupied by catering to our current list of clients.  Please check back with us next year.”  I’ve read this tag line on so many agency websites.

For those agents who are considering signing new talent, the competition is brutal!

I’ve sent out 45 queries over the last several months, and have received back 15 rejections.  However, I did receive one agent’s interest, and he asked for my first 3 chapters.  I was physched! Made my Thanksgiving complete!  After a month, I received a devastating blow- another rejection from my most promising prospect.

Granted, this industry requires an extremely thick layer of skin.  But that was hard to swallow.  I appreciated that he responded with a few tidbits as to why he passed on my baby- excuse me, manuscript.  I’ll try to learn from them.  But really the only way I can keep moving forward is just to keep writing.  Not only that, but keep writing what I love.

I’m looking forward to my first Writer’s Conference in February.  I hear that is an excellent way to learn, network, and potentially find at least an intro to an agent.  Its intimidating, but I’m anxious for it.

Needless to say, I also entered a bajillion contests over the last few months as well.  I’m waiting to hear back from several.  Including 1 contest in which I won a consolation prize of a critique of my first chapter.  That was back in October and I’m still waiting.  But that’s normal for this industry.

Pain, anguish, and infinite waiting is normal for this industry.

6 thoughts on “Day in the Life of an Aspiring Author

  1. I’m not at the point you are at yet, but I can see it’s really . . . ow.

    But writing just for fun eases the pain?

    • Amala,
      In all honesty, when I hear the horrible rejection and feel the stings in my spine, writing is my best medicine. Granted, I give myself a little time to lick my emotional wounds and vent my frustrations (mostly to my husband, who loyally agrees with me, even though he’s never read my work). But shortly thereafter, I’ll get back to writing. Towards my current manuscript, brainstorming for another, or just hammering it out in a blog… I write it out.
      Thanks for letting me vent again- it always helps! But keep at it- you’ll find your voice and the words will just flow out!

  2. You are so incredibly brave Susan to put up with all of this. I only just finished the first draft of my novel and I am entering the part where I start to cut, splice and dice and I’m not looking forward to it. But wow, you’re a tough one. I’m kinda not looking forward to all those potential rejections. But I guess I’ll have to suck it up.

    Seriously: good luck to you!

    • Ollin,
      Good luck during your editing and revising. Depending on your point of view, this could be the most fun part! I remember revising my first manuscript and found out several new things about my characters I was extremely excited about! I made a whole bunch of notes on how to incorporate the new ideas I had- quirks in their personalities, nervous habits, etc. You’d be amazed at what you can come up with when you take a step back and re-evaluate.
      My biggest piece of advice for this process, though, is do not get down on yourself during revisions. While writing your first draft, you’re so focused on the characters and story and the feeling, that a lot of times when you go back over it you find yourself saying “What was I thinking?” or “that mistake screams amateur!” (Or maybe that’s just me! I am my own harshest critic!) So don’t get too hard on yourself.
      Thanks again for the encouragement!

  3. Susan I am in a similar boat to you right now. I have sent out 146 queries (I know, it’s crazy). I had three offers from small publishers wanting to do an ebook, but I just didn’t feel they were a right fit for me. Now I am in talks with Harlequin about my manuscript White Lies. It is an extremley hard process but if I have learned one thing through it all it is that you have to want it badly and never give up.
    Good luck and I will check back for more updates!

    Emily Harper

    • Emily, I commend your fortitude- I empathize, although I’ve not had any offers. Good luck on your ‘talks’ with Harlequin- I watch that publisher constantly!!
      Thank you for your encouragement- there are days I definitely need to hear it! I’ll also watch your blog in the future as well!!

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